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Safeguarding Your Health During a Large Storm

The New York State Department of Health offers this important advice for guarding your public health during Hurricane Sandy

The New York State Department of Health offers three important pieces of advice surrounding your health and public safety during Hurricane Sandy.

Drinking Water Safety

If the drinking water systems are compromised following Hurricane Sandy, the atate and county health departments will issue a boil water advisories or other actions to ensure safe drinking water.

If a boil water advisory is issued for your community bring the water to a full rolling boil and maintain the full boil for at least one minute. Any time your drinking water appears cloudy, muddy, or even slightly discolored, it should not be used for drinking or cooking until it is disinfected.

Foodborne Illness

Flooding that results from a hurricane can result in foodborne illness. To help protect against foodborne illnesses, discard any foods that may be contaminated after a flood, including:

  • Frozen foods that have been thawed, if they have not been kept refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower
  • Any foods exposed to flood waters because of possible contamination
  • Foods exposed to flood waters that are packed in cardboard containers, screw top jars, or bottles
  • Canned foods when swelling, rusting or serious denting is visible

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Power outages are a common problem during a hurricane. As a result, in an effort to generate heat, people often choose to utilize devices which could produce carbon monoxide – (CO), an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is highly poisonous.

Depending on the level of exposure, CO may cause fatigue, weakness, chest pains for those with heart disease, shortness of breath upon exertion, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, lack of coordination, impaired vision, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, death. The NYSDOH recommends the following precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Do not burn charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle, tent or fireplace (Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO build-up in the home).
  • Always locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.

For more information on how to safeguard your health during a large storm, visit the DOH website or call its health information line at 1-800-458-1158.

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